Flynn in 2008
|Born||April 12, 1932
|Genre||Texas literature, Western fiction, satire|
|Subject||Texas, war, religion|
|Notable works||North To Yesterday|
Styles and themes
Flynn’s early fame came with the novel, North to Yesterday, which was a national bestseller. In Don Quixote fashion, it mocked the legend of the cowboy in Western novels while paying homage to it at the same time (anticipating Larry McMurtry‘s Lonesome Dove). Later works focused on more modern themes: rural life, going to war, religion in modern times and conflicts between “small town morality” and mass media/pop culture.
Novels like In the House of the Lord explored more religious/spiritual themes. Wanderer Springs adopted the gently satirical tone of his earlier works while also examining the interconnectedness between people and families in a small Texas town (inviting comparison to writers like Elmer Kelton or Garrison Keillor). The Last Klick touches upon themes of his service in the Vietnam War (reminiscent of novelist Tim O’Brien). In his latest novel Tie-Fast Country, Flynn returns to earlier themes, depicting a grandmother rancher with a checkered past who is out of sync with contemporary life. (The narrator, on the other hand, is a TV news producer who has to confront her).
Flynn’s short stories touch upon more serious themes and are written perhaps with a more lyrical style.
In 2010 and 2011, Flynn published two novels through JoSara MeDia, Jade:Outlaw and its sequel, Jade: the Law. Both novels portray the grim realities of living in west Texas in the late 19th century where settlers/Indians/Mexicans frequently clash. Jade, the protagonist, is hired as an escort for cattle, guarding property and chasing after rustlers. He quickly discovers that just to do his job means getting involved in brutal situations that trouble his conscience. Jade ends up falling in love with Crow Poison, an Indian woman whose husband he had killed. Eventually he realizes that both sides have culpability. His outrage translates into a desire to fight for the sake of justice (even if it results in tragedy). At the end of the novel, Jade (with the support of his wife) agrees to serve as sheriff for his town (which becomes the basis for the sequel, Jade: The Law). Of this ebook, San Antonio Express News book reviewer Ed Conroy writes: “Flynn brilliantly employs a directly simple, subtle and at times sardonic narrative voice to tell this tale. It is alternately tough and tender, succinct and sweet, cadenced to the clip-clop of a horse trotting down Main Street, the hullabaloo of a steam locomotive triumphantly making its way into town amid a jubilant crowd’s hoopla, and, of course, to the shots of guns of many kinds fired in self-defense, anger, treachery and haste….Through chronicling Jade’s struggles to bring some ordinary order into what eventually becomes Jade Town, Flynn makes clear that the cost of many of our male ancestors’ genocidal policies toward Indians, systematic abuse of women and fears of the “mongrelization” of the “white race” was massive social trauma of immensely tragic proportions.”
Flynn was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame in October 2012.
Flynn taught writing to college students over four decades. In a 2007 audio interview, he said, “You can read any book on writing fiction for example, and they will tell you the same thing. Someone may say it in a different way that gives you better insight, but there are no secrets in writing; it’s just a matter of doing it.”
- North To Yesterday
- In the House of the Lord
- The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope
- Wanderer Springs
- The Last Klick
- The Devil’s Tiger, with Dan Klepper
- Tie-Fast Country
- Jade: The Outlaw (ebook + pb) JoSara MeDia (September 1, 2010)
- Jade: The Law (ebook + pb) JoSara MeDia (October 2011)
- A Personal War In Vietnam
Short story collections
- Living with the Hyenas
- Seasonal Rain
- Slouching towards Zion
- When I was Just Your Age, oral histories, edited with Susan Russell
- Growing Up a Sullen Baptist
- Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities
- Reprinted in full on the Amazon.com Book page for this book
- “Texas Literary Hall of Fame | Fort Worth Library”. Fortworthtexas.gov. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- “Texas author Robert Flynn Interview (2007)”. Archive.org. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists featuring Robert Flynn. Edited by Nan Cuba and Riley Robinson (Trinity University Press, 2008).
- Interview with Robert Flynn(about his book Growing Up a Sullen Baptist).
- The Door: The World’s Pretty Much Only Magazine of Religious Satire. Essay by Robert Flynn.
- Robert Flynn’s Author Website
- 2007 Interview with Texas Author Robert Flynn (audio)